5 alternative exercises for lunges you should try

Are you looking to make your legs stronger? Squats and lunges are great for strengthening our legs and improving balance. But sometimes alternatives for lunges are the perfect thing to switch up your workout routine on leg day. 

Adding in different exercises like step-ups, Bulgarian split squats, curtsy lunges, glute bridges, and pistol squats will help improve lower body strength. 

Dumbbell step ups are a great single leg exercise that are great for building strength and alternative for lunges

What are the benefits of lunges?

Lunges are awesome because they make our legs super strong and steady. When we do lunges, we work out important muscle groups like our thighs, hamstrings and glutes.

It’s like giving our legs a power boost. Plus, lunges also help us improve our balance, which is super important for all the fun activities we love to do.

Now, even though lunges are great, they might not be everyone’s cup of tea. Some of us might find them a bit tough or uncomfortable.

If lunges aren’t your thing, there are different lower body exercises that you can try. 

Reasons to use an alternative for lunges

Let’s explore three awesome benefits of using alternatives to lunges, especially if we have bad knees, joint pain or problems with balance:

Improves leg strength

Lunge alternatives target various leg muscles without causing strain on the knees. This helps in developing overall leg strength, which is essential for daily activities and staying active.

Supportive for bad knees

Many lunge alternatives focus on movements that provide support to the knees. These exercises work the muscles around the knees, making them stronger and more stable. It’s like giving our knees a helping hand to feel better.

Soothes joint pain

Lunge alternatives focus on the muscles around the joints, providing them with support and strength. When these surrounding muscles get stronger, they help stabilize the joints, reducing pain and improving joint function. It’s like building a protective shield around our joints!

Improves balance

Single leg exexercises improve muscle imbalances which help you practice your balance skills.

Lunges make us stand on one leg at a time, like a flamingo! This challenges our balance because we have to keep ourselves from tipping over. Our brain and muscles learn to coordinate better to keep us from falling.

Improves functional movements

As people with bad knees practice lunge alternatives regularly, they can experience improved knee functionality. Stronger muscles around the knees help with better movement and flexibility. It’s like giving the knees a superhero upgrade!

5 single leg lunge alternatives 

Lunges are a unilateral exercise. Try one of these unilateral exercises as an alternative to reverse or forward lunges to help with muscle imbalances while still targeting the same muscles ordinary lunges do.

Lunge alternatives additionally add more versatility to your workout by providing several exercises that are easy to modify or integrate.

Bulgarian split squat

dumbbell HIIT workout bulgarian split squat
  • Stand with one foot on a bench or elevated surface behind you and your other foot in front of you. 
  • Keep your chest up and your core engaged as you lower your body down toward the ground by bending your front knee. 
  • Your back foot should remain elevated behind you. 
  • Once your front thigh is parallel to the ground, push through your front foot to return to a standing position. 
  • Repeat the exercise for the desired number of reps and then switch legs.

Tip: Bulgarian split squats vs lunges? Both are good for lower body muscle development.

Landmine reverse lunge

landmine leg exercises
woman in gray tank top and black leggings doing landmine reverse lunges in the gym
  • Stand in front of the landmine bar with both hands gripping the end of the barb. You want the end of the barbell to be at chest height.
  • Place your feet shoulder-width apart with toes facing forwards. Push your chest out and pull your shoulders back.
  • Keeping one right foot in place, take a step back with your left foot.
  • Drop your back knee until it almost touches the floor, and keep your torso upright.
  • Bring your leg forwards as you rise back up to the standing position.
  • Repeat with the other leg to finish the rep.

Single-leg glute bridge

woman on floor in gym doing single leg glute bridge
woman on floor in gym doing single leg glute bridges
  • Lie on the ground and with your right foot on the ground.
  • Extend your left leg straight into the air.
  • Extend your arms to the sides and tighten your core.
  • Push down with your right foot, elevating your hips off the ground.
  • Lower your hips back down and push back up through your heel.


dumbbell step ups
  • Stand in front of a step or platform with your feet hip-width apart. Keep your posture tall and your core engaged.
  • Lift one foot and place it firmly on the step, ensuring your entire foot is in contact with the surface. Drive through your heel to push your body onto the step while straightening your lifted leg.
  • Stand tall with your hips and knees fully extended. Avoid leaning forward or backward, maintaining an upright posture.
  • Carefully lower your body back down to the starting position by bending your knee and hip, and stepping back with control.
  • Repeat with the opposite leg.

Tip: Step ups vs lunges? Both have their place in your workout. Check out seven benefits of step ups for your body.

Pistol squat

woman standing holding the TRX straps for TRX pistol squat leg exercise
TRX pistol squat leg exercises
  • Face the anchor point, grab the handles of the TRX bands, and step back and squat down into the starting position. Your feet are hip-width apart and your arms should be fully extended.
  • Engage your core and raise your right leg off the ground.
  • Sit back, keep a strong core and squat down while pushing the heel of your left foot into the ground as you lower. You should aim to squat down enough to form a 90-degree angle with your left knee.
  • Push up through your heel to the standing position while keeping a slight bend in your left knee.
  • Repeat then switch to your other foot.
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